Food, Music, Southeast Asia

CONCEPTIONS AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF ISLAM IN HISTORIC AND CONTEMPORARY TIMES

Since Eid’l Fitr will already be on June 15, allow me to share with you this article on our Muslim brothers and sisters.

 

Southeast Asia is known as both the “Malay Archipelago” and the “Muslim Archipelago.” It is known as such because some Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brunei all practice Islam. However, in the Philippines, the Islam communities are concentrated more in Mindanao, specifically in the southernmost provinces, such as Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Basilan.

The spread of Islam in Asia was rooted from trading. Through the Silk Road, valuable goods, such as spices, were traded between China and Arabia. China had the most developed civilization during the time of Prophet Muhammad. Through this trade, Muslim traders who went to China adopted their Chinese names.

SPREAD AND POLITICS OF ISLAM

During the Spanish civilization, the Spaniards made a conclusion that the Philippines did not have civilization so they had to spread Christianity throughout the country and enslave the so-called “indios.” However, the manner of how Christianity was spread in the Philippines was too bloody since it dealt with a series of battles  (through cross and swords) between the Filipinos and Spaniards. Islam was rather spread in a peaceful way since it was not just spread through a series of trading businesses. A Sultanate was also formed, which was solely governed by the locals. This signified that the Philippines already had civilization, even before the Spaniards came.

The southernmost part of the Philippines was one of the areas which was not colonized by the Spaniards. According to the crusade theory, the Spaniards attempted to colonize such area but the Muslims were able to resist colonization, not only because of the Sultanate’s existence. The Muslims fought against the Spaniards because of patriotism or love for the homeland. This signified that nationalism did not only exist in the late 1800s during the time of Emilio Aguinaldo.

Because of the Muslims’ resistance from the Spaniards, they were tagged as the Moors, or “Los Moros” in Spanish, who were dismissed as savages and ignorants. This is the reason why most Muslims are still discriminated here in the Philippines. There was even a time that an all-out war was declared in Muslim Mindanao in the year 2000, which was rather unjust and discriminatory. The 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center New York in the year 2001 was blamed on Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, which was a terrorist group from the Middle East. History repeated itself in 2017 when a war happened in Marawi City, which did not only kill thousands of Muslims. Many civilians were also killed during the war. Also, several wars involving the ISIS happened during the early to mid-2010s in European countries such as the United Kingdom and France, which also killed thousands of civilians. While these bombings often involved Muslims and Muslim countries, it is unjust to generalize that Muslims are terrorists. However, based on the past discussions, these terrorism happen because some Muslims tend to misquote the teachings from the Qur’an. In effect, the ISIS abused the use of teachings from the Qur’an to their political advantage and at the expense of the lives of fellow Muslims.

ORIGINS AND PRINCIPLES

Islam is often misconceived as a new religion established by Prophet Muhammad while Christianity existed earlier than Islam. However, both religions were rooted from the time of Abraham. While the Christians have Jesus Christ as a human representation of God, the Islams have Allah, which proved that both Christianity and Islam are monotheistic. Other teachings found in both Muslim and Christianity are love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. Muslims do not discriminate against people, no matter what religion they belong to. As a result, atheists are not misjudged and discriminated against.

The origin of Islam is spread through oral tradition. Oral traditions may either be in the form of songs, poems, tarsilas, and khutbah. Tarsilas are genealogical accounts where the person’s Muslim roots are traced while khutbahs are religious sermons.

While Islam is mainly a patriarchal religion, people are discouraged to humiliate women, whether in a verbal manner or through other means. People responsible for doing so may be killed. Shame or “hiya” is another principle in Islam. An Islam may be invited for a meal but he/she has to be requested for three times before he/she accepts the offer.

ISLAM, ACADEMICS, AND CULTURE

The Islamic civilization made a lot of major contributions in the academe. Computer science and information technology, which often dealt with algorithms, were rooted in algebra, which was commonly used during the Islam civilization. Modern medicine was rooted from Abyssinia, while the concept of surgery was written by Muslim scholars.

While Western classical and popular art cultures remain dominant, Muslim art cultures are alive, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia. Both the Philippines and Indonesia associate gong music with Muslim cultures, with Indonesia having the Javanese Gamelan and the Philippines having the Kulintang. While Christianity had the tendency to acculturate indigenous art cultures, Muslims mix their cultures with the existing culture of the indigenous people so no culture is watered down by the Muslims. While Christians frown upon elaborated art in emphasizing the virtue of simplicity, Islamic art is rather colorful and elaborate. Most of the Islamic art is seen on wooden frames of kulintangs, agungs, and gandingans, as well as on Islamic clothing. Most of the clothing worn by the Muslims are adorned with sequins, especially hijabs worn by women. The wearing of hijabs is often misconceived as Arab clothing. However, it was rather stated in the Qur’an that “private parts” should be covered, which included the ladies’ hair.

In terms of food, the Muslims only eat food which are considered “Halal,” which do not include pork. While pork is considered dirty for them, it is also unhealthy due to high fat and bad cholesterol content. Through this practice, they are not only able to practice their faith. They also ensure that everything they eat is beneficial for their health.

MUSLIMS AND TRADE

In the modern-day Philippines, Muslims are often stereotyped as dealers of pirated copies of movie DVDs in Quiapo and budget malls. However, Muslims are more than just DVD dealers. In Muslim communities, such as the Muslim town in Quiapo, they sell various merchandise, such as Muslim clothing (e.g., hijab) and food. The bazaar area in Greenhills Shopping Center is even dominated by the Muslims who do not only sell clothing. They also sell accessories made of real pearls (mostly from their hometowns in Southern Mindanao) and precious stones.

DIPLOMACY

Even in modern times, most of the Muslims still experience discrimination, not only in mainstream media. They sometimes fail to gain access to public transportation, because of how the mainstream media manipulated most of the Filipino citizens. How will be able to end discrimination against the Muslims? Aside from the regular peace talks, the change may start with the business sector, like what the management of Greenhills Shopping Center did. In NAIA Terminal 3, there are facilities specially made for Muslims, such as prayer rooms and water closets equipped with foot basins for washing. As for the existing Moro problem in Southern Philippines, solidarity concerts may be held where various types of music are performed. Apart from solidarity concerts, Open Kulintang jam sessions may be held where non-Muslims may join in the instrument playing activity.

 

 

This article was originally submitted for my SEA 30 class. This was published with minor revisions.

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Food, Travel

DINING IN AUTHENTIC BINONDO STYLE

I first asked my dad if he has already been to To Ho. Fortunately, neither in my family has been there yet. So I was with my dad upon visiting this restaurant since the servings might be big for one person. I usually eat in small portions only, similar as the ones served in fastfood chains and Japanese restaurants.

PLANNING THE TRIP

Since I was not really familiar with the place, I first searched for the restaurant via Google Maps. I decided to simply draw the map on my notebook so that my mobile phone will not be at risk.

THE TRIP TO NEW TO HO FOOD CENTER

From our place in Sta. Mesa, we decided to take a jeepney bound to Divisoria. Why a jeepney bound to Divisoria? Because it passes through Claro M. Recto Avenue, one of the gateways to Manila Chinatown. We also found it more challenging to either ride a taxi or book an Uber/Grab Car on our way to Binondo since most of the streets there were one-way traffic. It was likewise challenging to bring our family car since the parking was not the only issue. It would be too far from most of the Divisoria malls, even from the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Reina Regente. The jeepney took our usual route to Downtown Manila which was Legarda St. The traffic was quite heavy since we went there on a Saturday. Apparently, upon reaching the area near San Beda College, it turned out that Mendiola Street (alternative route to Downtown Manila for most private cars) was closed due to an ongoing protest. The traffic was quite light near the University Belt but it was again heavy upon crossing Rizal Avenue. We originally decided to take off the jeepney near Benavidez St., but we decided to take off near Teodora Alonzo St. since the traffic was too heavy.

From Alonzo, we took a long walk to Soler and another long walk to Sabino Padilla (formerly Gandara). It was likewise a challenge for us to walk along the said streets since there were too many cars parked along them. The traffic was likewise heavy there. I tried remembering what I have drawn in my map. Trusting my memory, we walked towards the right side of Tomas Pinpin.

Unfortunately, we realized that it was already Ongpin St. at the end. We decided to ask a random storekeeper where the restaurant was located. It turned out that my memory was contrary to what I have drawn in my map! We were supposed to walk towards the left side of Sabino Padilla.

THE AREA

We have already found the New To Ho Food Center in Tomas Pinpin. It was located near several furniture shops, mostly selling Uratex goods. Since the airconditioned dining area was still closed, we decide to take a seat at the innermost part of the non-airconditioned area. Despite not being equipped with airconditioning units, the six ceiling fans were able to combat the heat inside. The area was quite old, which reminded me of the Ramon Lee restaurant in Ronquillo. The furniture likewise looked old, albeit manageable for dining. It reminded me much of the carinderias (budget eateries) I have seen in Xiamen, China and Phuket Town in Thailand, in terms of ambiance. Most of the diners we have seen were pure Filipinos and only a few Chinese. While the waitstaffs were Filipinos, the headcook was a Chinese since she looked a bit white. The waitstaffs were all wearing blue collared shirts. While most of the restaurants we have dined have specifically designated tasks (i.e. taking orders, issuing the bills, washing the dishes), the waitstaffs here were all multitaskers. They changed from one task to another every time, which gave me the impression that they were a bit undermanned

THE FOOD

I asked one of their waitstaffs first for their recommended dishes. These were the top three recommended dishes: Pork Asado, Lechon, and Pancit Canton. We decided to order Lechon. In order to have a balanced diet, we ordered Nido Soup, Pancit Miki Bihon, Calamares, and Lo Han Chai. We unanimously decided not to order rice anymore since the soup and pancit were filling (nakakabusog) enough. We ordered everything in their smallest sizes. I likewise ordered a can of Sprite to balance the taste. Sprite is my usual drink whenever iced tea is not available in a particular restaurant. My dad ordered his usual bottle of SMB Pale Pilsen for only Php 43, much cheaper than in most restaurants in major dining hubs like Malate and Greenbelt areas.

The Lechon was the first food item served since it was categorized as one of the Cold Cuts. The Cold Cuts were treated similarly to the Spanish Tapas, which were eaten as an appetizer. The serving of the Lechon was quite generous. It was quite similar to the Filipino Lechon Kawali, in terms of the skin’s crispness and the meat’s texture. No trace of MSG (Ajinomoto). We were able to finish this.

The next food item served was the Nido Soup. It was well seasoned for the flavor was not overpowered by the egg. Usually, when my family orders Chinese soup, the egg tends to overpower the soup’s flavor. But not for Toho. Again, no trace of MSG. We decided not to consume all of the soup to give way for the other dishes.

The Pancit Miki Bihon and Calamares were served simultaneously. The serving was likewise generous so it was a good decision for us not to order rice anymore. Toho’s version of Pancit Miki Bihon was one of the most decent versions of pancit in the budget category. As for the Calamares, the serving was also plentiful and delicious. The challenge for us was how we can consume everything? What more if we ordered everything in medium sizes?

The last food item served was the Lo Han Chai. I remembered my parents who brought home Lo Han Chai from MXT in SM Sta. Mesa where they dined a few days ago. I likewiseordered this dish with my family when we dined in Luk Foo in Quezon City. Toho’s version was quite different since it had a lot of green peas, Chinese pechay, and a lot of young corn. However, the reason why Toho’s Lo Han Chai was inexpensive was that it did not have Shiitake Mushrooms and Taingang Daga. It only had button mushrooms as the edible fungus. It still tasted well though.

OTHER INFORMATION

I asked one of their waitstaffs if they have an idea regarding the history of the New To Ho Food Center. They requested me instead to wait for their boss at 1pm. At 1pm, I was able to ask a few information from Ms. Kathleen Wong, one of the descendants of the restaurant’s founder. She mentioned that the present area was still the same since 1888. However, it got razed by fire in 1983 and it was renovated in 1986. The original name of the restaurant was Antigua Panciteria and was later changed to To Ho Antigua, with To Ho meaning “Good Enough”. Year-wise, it was actually older than most restaurants like Ma Mon Luk, Savory, Max’s, and even The Aristocrat. It truly withstood several historical events like the 1896 Philippine Revolution, World War II, and even various typhoons that hit and flooded the metro.

FINAL WORDS

Staying true to its brand, my dad and I both appreciated the food. Area-wise, it was quite neat, despite the rustic look. I would have suggested to have more waitstaffs to ease the working environment. If we were to return to To Ho soon, we realized that it was easier to go there by going to Quiapo first, then to Plaza Sta. Cruz, and ride a jeepney from Dasmariñas St. to Tomas Pinpin.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: I originally wrote this for my Field Methods class. I posted this with slight revisions.

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Food, Geography, Globalization, Travel

The Microcosm of Foreign Cultures in the Metro

FILIPINO-CHINESE:

The Chinatown in downtown Manila has been dubbed as the oldest Chinatown in the world, due to the long trading history between the pre-colonial Filipinos and the Chinese. During my choral tour in Xiamen two years ago, we were told by the people from the Philippine Embassy that most of the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines had Fujian blood since the Fujian province is the nearest area to the Philippines, Northwestern part, to be specific.

Okay, enough of historical talk. Nowadays, the Manila Chinatown is frequently visited not only during the Chinese New Year. Netizens, specifically v-loggers (YouTubers who mostly do videos in reality TV show style), would troop there to do the so-called “Binondo Food Crawl” where they explore and review every restaurant in the area. Some of the frequently visited restaurants are Wai Ying (known for budget-friendly meals), New Toho Food Center (oldest restaurant in the Philippines, since the late 1800s), Sincerity (known for its fried chicken), Ongpin Mañosa, Estero (literally located near the creek), and many more. Hopia from either Eng Bee Tin or Ho-Land is one of the delicacies available in the area. For those wanting to try cooking one of the Chinese dishes at home, Arranque market at the corner of Recto and Teodora Alonzo St. has everything in store, from Sea Cucumbers to Chinese Cabbage to even various types of mushrooms such as Shiitake and Black Mushrooms.

JAPANESE:

While Japanese restaurants are widely located across the Metro, the most authentic ones are located in Little Tokyo, a small restaurant hub located in Makati. It has likewise became the main setting for the music video of Soapdish band’s 2006 song, “Tensionado”.

While Kikufuji and Seryna remain as the most popular restaurants in the complex, the Yamazaki grocery is known for its budget-friendly meals. Seikyo (formerly Choto Stop) is known for its budget-friendly grocery items with an average price of 88 pesos per item.

KOREAN:

In the early to mid-2000s, Tagalog-dubbed Korean dramas such as “Endless Love” (starred by Choi Ji Woo 최지우), “Lovers in Paris” (starred by Kim Jung Eun 김정은 and Lee Dong Gun 이동건), “Save The Last Dance for Me” (starred by Eugene 유진), and “Jewel in the Palace” started to be broadcast on Philippine television which later topped the TV ratings. Former 2NE1 member Sandara Park 박산다라 likewise dominated the Filipino talent search, “Star Circle Quest”. However, it was only in the late 2000s when Filipinos got to have a dose of Korean culture in Koreatowns established around the metro.

I first encountered Korean expatriates back in high school at St. Scholastica’s College. I noticed that they consistently excel in Math and Science. They likewise have stellar skills in piano playing which I have likewise encountered as a student in the UP College of Music.

Going back to Metro Manila’s Koreatowns, the one in Makati, specifically in the Barangay Poblacion area near Rockwell, is the most popular since most of the Korean restaurants are located there, such as Min Sok and Dong Won. Malate, which used to be the hub for Manila’s nightlife scene, has become another microcosm of Korean culture not only because of the existence of numerous restaurants (i.e. Chosun, Korean Village, Korean Palace, Makchang) and grocery stores. Most of the Korean expatriates are also studying in the nearby schools, especially in the De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines Manila.  Don Antonio Heights in Quezon City has likewise became a partially Korean community, due to the number of Korean residents. Some of my Korean classmates from the UP College of Music live there.

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Food, Travel

THE ULTIMATE BAGUIO TRAVEL GUIDE!

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The Mines View Park Observatory Deck (2017)

My first Baguio trip was in the year 2003, together with my family. What I remembered was that we left Pasay in the afternoon and arrived in Baguio late in the evening. My dad and I went back to Baguio the second time around during the Holy Week and I went there again for my Field Methods class.

Here are a few tips to conquer the summer capital of the Philippines!

TRANSPORTATION – There are a lot of bus companies which cater trips from Manila to Baguio and/or vice-versa. However, when planning to go to the Summer Capital, I would suggest reserving them online during Peak Seasons (April through May; Christmas Season) for they easily get jam-packed. While Victory Liner is the top choice, there are also other buses plying to Baguio, such as Genesis.

Most trips to Baguio via Victory Liner have at least one stopover, with the Sison stopover in Pangasinan as the largest. There are a lot of food items to choose from, such as Alaminos Longganisa rice meal, Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog, Pork Barbecue, and even Benguet Coffee.

Upon arrival in Baguio, there are a lot of taxis and jeepneys which can bring you to any point of the city. Minimum fare for taxis costs around Php 40-60, depending on the distance.

As for the jeepneys, here are some of the routes:

BAGUIO PLAZA-TRANCOVILE (from Session Road to Slaughterhouse Area)

BAGUIO PLAZA-DREAMLAND (from Session Road Area to Dreamland Subdivision)

BAGUIO PLAZA-LA TRINIDAD (to La Trinidad)

BAGUIO PLAZA-MINES VIEW PARK (to Luneta Hill and Loakan-Gibraltar Area)

The Slaughterhouse Area was originally a slaughterhouse, as per namesake. However, it later became a transport terminal for vehicles plying to the rest of Benguet like the town of Kabayan which is a favorite destination of mountaineers, thanks to the famous Mt. Pulag. Some vehicles are also bound to the rest of the Cordillera Administrative Region, such as the provinces of Kalinga, Ifugao, and Mountain Province.

LODGING – There are a lot of options to choose from. While some hotels, such as Microtel (near Victory Liner Terminal and SM City Baguio), Hotel Veniz (near Abanao Square), Venus Parkview (right across Burnham Park), and Casa Vallejo (also near the Victory Liner Terminal) are located in the city’s commercial district, there are also transient houses that charge less, albeit far from the metropolis. One of the most luxurious lodging areas in Baguio is The Manor at the Camp John Hay which charge around Php 5000 per night.

FOOD – While fastfood chains, such as Jollibee and McDonald’s are located at the Session Road area, homegrown restaurants are also found in the Summer Capital. For cakes, pizza, and pasta , Vizco’s is one of the favorites, especially for its Strawberry Shortcake. There are also cafés in the Gibraltar Area which overlook the mountain view. Casa Vallejo’s Hill Station serves some of the finest food dishes. Other dining options may be found in Baguio Technohub and SM Baguio. Strawberry taho is likewise available around the city, especially in Mines View Park, Luneta Hill (near Victory Liner), and Burnham Park.

TOURIST SPOTS – While Mines View Park, The Mansion, Wright Park, Burnham Park, and the La Trinidad Strawberry Farm remain as the top tourist destinations, the BenCab museum in Tuba is likewise a must-visit. While it displayed the works of National Artist Benedicto Cabrera, it likewise showcased the art culture of the Ibalois in a nutshell.

SHOPPING – Baguio City is known for the ukay-ukay (thrift shops) which sold pre-loved branded clothing (for instance, Gucci, Balenciaga), shoes, and bags which are sold for as low as 30 pesos. While there are several ukay-ukay shops along Session Road, the night market is one of the recent tourist destinations. While the city’s public market sells a wide range of delicacies for pasalubong, knitted crafts may be bought here, such as cardigans and bonnets.

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Food, Globalization, Travel

Going Global with Food

A dish is always created differently, depending on the region or country. Not all dishes are created with the same set of ingredients. It depends on the availability of the ingredients in a particular region or country. In other words, cultural particularity is always present.

For instance, not all lechons are created equally here in the Philippines. Here in the metro, especially in La Loma, a district in Quezon City that comprised of various lechon sellers, lechon is always served with pork liver sauce (also known as sarsa. The brands available in supermarkets are Mang Tomas, Andok’s and Mother’s Best). However, the Negrenses and Cebuanos treat lechon differently. Instead of serving lechon with sarsa, they rather stuff the pig with herbs and spices, particularly lemongrass, onion chives, as well as Camel Soy Sauce, before roasting it. As for the Chinese, they season it with five-spice powder and other spices. Sometimes, there is a dish called lechon kawali which is prepared by either deep-frying the pork belly in a pan or using a turbo broiler. It is usually served with a concoction of soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, crushed garlic, and chopped onions. Sometimes, chopped coriander or wansuy is added.

While most of the Western cultures cook steak in quite the same way like pan-frying and grilling, the Tagalogs treat it differently as bistekBistek Tagalog is prepared by slow-cooking the sirloin beef in a mixture of soy sauce and calamansi. It is usually topped with white onion rings.

Growing up in the Philippines, I often ate spaghetti, comprised of banana ketchup (plus points if UFC or Papa is used for the sauce), sweet-style spaghetti sauce (could be Clara Olé or Del Monte), Pure Foods hotdog slices, and ground pork. The dish is topped with processed cheese (could be Eden, Che-Vital or Ques-O). Up until now, I often have my Filipino spaghetti fix in Jollibee since they serve the best one so far. As for the Italian pasta dishes, I only got to appreciate them when I already reached college. Compared to the sweet spaghetti of the Filipinos, the Italian red sauce variety is more on tomatoes and herbs. The difference is also evident on carbonara. While the Filipino carbonara is comprised of all-purpose cream, evaporated milk, mushrooms, and bacon strips (similar to King Sue and Purefoods), the Italian carbonara is more on egg yolk emulsions and pancetta (pork belly bacon). One of the most popular Italian restaurants in the Philippines to taste these Italian pasta dishes is Bellini’s (owned by a pure Italian, Signor Roberto Bellini), located in Cubao X.

As for the instant noodles, it likewise depends on the culture. While the Korean Nong Shim’s Shin Ramyun is peppery in terms of spiciness, the Filipino Lucky Me! is more on the local flavors (i.e. La Paz Batchoy – needless to say, a childhood favorite with garlicky broth; Bulalo – similar to nilagang baka, with a hint of beef shank broth taste). As for the Japanese variety, it borders more on the rich, umami taste.

Not all McDonald’s outlets worldwide have totally the same menu, probably excluding worldwide favorites like Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, Fillet-O-Fish and a lot more. Only the Philippine McDonald’s (aka McDo) franchise serves Chicken McDo, a fried chicken cut (not fillet) served with gravy and rice. I misconceived that the branches in China (aka Mai Tang Lao, 麦当劳) and Hong Kong likewise sell Chicken McDo since the Chinese people’s staple food is likewise rice. Yes, the China francise has chicken rice meal but the chicken is boneless, served on top of a bowl of rice. McDonald’s Hong Kong serves corn cups as side dish.  KFC in China is likewise different from the one here in the Philippines. The KFC I have dined in Chongqing served soup and egg custard tart as part of the chicken value meal while the KFC here in the Philippines offers a Fully Loaded meal comprised of signature chicken with rice, brownies, mushroom soup, macaroni salad, coleslaw, and mashed potato with gravy.

I have been eating cheesecake since I was a kid. As far as I remember, the first slice of cheesecake I have ever tasted was the Blueberry Cheesecake from Red Ribbon (the time before it was turned over to fastfood giant, Jollibee). The texture was a mix of crushed grahams and yogurt-like feel of the cream cheese. These were the same characteristics of the other cheesecakes I have tried like Conti’s, Banapple (the king of cheesecakes in the Philippines), Cheesecake Melliza, etc. However, this proved that not all cheesecakes are created equally:

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A cheesecake-making routine in the newly-opened branch of Pablo Cheesecake in Robinsons Place Manila.

While the Americans prefer their cheesecakes to be sweet and solid, the Japanese cheesecake is more on the creamy side. My family ordered Pablo’s Premium Cheesecake two weeks ago and the texture was quite similar to leche flan. The burnt sugar neutralized the cheesecake’s sweetness. Hmm… what could be the taste of the Filipino cheesecake (no, not just the chiffon cake topped with Eden Cheese) made from kesong putiDayap (local lime) could probably be one of the ideal flavors of kesong puti cheesecake.

These are just some of the examples that food is culturally particular. It depends on not just the ingredients available in a particular province or state, but also on the acquired taste.

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Food, Travel

I Eat to Live, I Live to Eat

I have been living a life full of food for several reasons: travels, school, work and other reasons. It even reached the point that I got to secure a Looloo (a nationwide restaurant database created in the Philippines) account and make reviews on the restaurants I have been to. Several restaurants made my cut. However, I have a handful of food preferences, the most loved ones and the not-so-loved ones.

“Ang estudyanteng nagigipit, sa siomai rice kumakapit.” I came across this statement when I read about the favorite food spots of UST students. This applied to me, even if I am a UP student (who usually reached for Lucky Me Pancit Canton when finances are quite low). Sometimes, I reach for siomai when I do not feel like spending too much on lunch. Some of my favorite siomai spots are Hen Lin (since I was a kid), Siomai House and Luk Yuen (a bit more expensive but more fulfilling).

Chicken Inasal is likewise my comfort food. I would always crave for this, especially when the chicken is authentically prepared. During my early teens, my mom introduced me to Ilonggo cuisine, via Marina, a restaurant that used to have a branch near the CCP Complex. Since then, I loved the ginger-y flavor of the chicken which reduced the fishy tone of the chicken. During a choral tour in Bacolod, I became more ecstatic when our hosts brought us to Bacolod Chicken House where I tasted the authentic Chicken Inasal. I am now looking forward to try Chicken Deli, another inasal joint from Bacolod (endorsed by Ilonggo comedian Allan K) that recently opened a branch in Landmark Makati. Speaking of Ilonggo food, I also loved the authentic Kadios, Baboy, Langka (an Ilonggo soup dish that used kadios beans as souring ingredient) from Bascon Cafe. Wish I could go back to Bacolod soon to try their other delectable dishes, as well as Calea’s famous cakes. I might try to tour around Iloilo next time, when finances and schedule allow me to do so.

When it comes to vegetables, I would always ask my mom, a pure Ilocana (from Cagayan Valley but my late maternal grandfather hailed from Ilocos Sur), to cook Braised Saluyot with Bamboo Shoots for me. I liked how the sweetness of the bamboo shoots blend with the slight bitterness of saluyot and the saltiness of fish bagoong.

I also love seafood pasta (preferably without the cream; The best one I have tasted so far was in Roxas City, during a wedding reception performance.), Sans Rival cake and Adobo. I initially hated the Sans Rival cake since I found it too sweet. I only got to appreciate it when our host in Dumaguete served us Sans Rival cake from Sans Rival, the cake shop in Dumaguete that popularized the dish. I eventually yearned for that cake every time a cake is offered in a particular restaurant/cake shop. Aside from Sans Rival cake shop, my other favorites are served in The Chocolate Kiss Cafe and Conti’s. Since I was a kid, I liked my parents’ garlicky adobo, just enough balance of Coconut Brand Soy Sauce’s saltiness, Apple Cider Vinegar’s (or could be Sukang Tuba’s) sourness and garlic flavor.

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Sans Rival Dumaguete’s Silvanas in Chocolate and Original flavors.

Going to my not-so-loved dishes, not that much since I am not that picky with food. However, I don’t like to eat pork liver because of its taste and texture. I am likewise not a fan of fast food style burger because they use extenders in their beef patties. I prefer food which are either cooked at home or prepared in specialty restaurants.

Aside from wanting to go back to Bacolod soon, I would want to visit Cebu soon and try their delectable dishes. I guess I have this hidden Anthony Bourdain in me since I do not just eat to sustain myself, but also to go places. 🙂

 

*- This essay was slightly edited from the original work I submitted for my Anthro 1 class in UP Diliman.

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Food, Travel

Why do I love dining out?

Happy New Year guys! It’s been two weeks since the Yuletide Season has passed by. Where did you spend your Noche Buena and Media Noche dinners, as well as Christmas and New Year meals?

My family and I would often eat at various restaurants for several reasons: victory lunches/dinners, birthdays, Christmas, NAME IT! But sometimes, we eat out, just because. Wala lang. There were a lot of times that we tried to do a particular dish from a certain restaurant in our home kitchen. Most of the time, that dish would turn out successfully delicious.

Why do I love dining out?

 Restaurants teach me how to make such dishes. There were a lot of times wherein I scrutinize each dish in terms of the ingredients used, as well as how it was prepared. Was it fried? Baked? Grilled? Did the kitchen personnel use herbs? Specialty cheeses? Truffle oil? Olive oil?

It makes me want to visit a certain place soon. Japanese restaurants and even a Japanese convenience store chain have sprouted here in Metro Manila, left and right. There are times where I can tell whether a sushi is authentically prepared or not. However, I just end up getting confused, unless I get to go to Japan in the flesh. For the case of the Korean restaurants, it was a bit easier to compare authentic ones from non-authentic ones since most of them are operated by Korean expats, just like how the Filipino carinderias are operatedYet, I would want to get a taste of Seoul soon in Seoul. For the case of the Philippines, I often end up dining in Filipino restaurants serving Visayan food (i.e. Diwal, Chicken Inasal, Lechon Cebu) which make me want to visit the rest of the Visayan area soon (i.e. Bacolod, Iloilo, Cebu).

Restaurant-related apps give me that feeling of curiosity. 4.5 out of 5, 5 out of 5, 3 out of 5. Why such ratings? Service? Taste? Must eat in that resto next time. It often reaches the point that I search for the best restaurants outside Metro Manila and even outside Luzon.

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